SUIT YOURSELF INTERVIEWS 6T'S HEAD HONCHO ADY CROASDELL

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Every now and then, an opportunity comes along to interview someone who's influence on a particular scene means so much to so many, Suit Yourself feel very honoured to be able to interview this particular person, from the early 1980's this mans musical genius has opened the ears of a generation. His success as a record label boss only equalled by his success as a club promoter, Ladies and Gentleman with great pleasure we would like to introduce you to the man behind Kent records and the legendary 6T's 100 club All nighters.........MR ADY CROASDELL. 

Hi Ady, can you please tell us about your young self, your early influences and the introduction to the scene you have become so prominent in and when and how this happened.

 

"I was born in 1952 so i was 13/14 in 1966, the year it really kicked off for me. My older sister was moddish, I remember her getting the Rescue Me LP for her 18th birthday; and Barefootin'. I loved music through my dad's 78s and then through the charts and pirate radio stations. I bought Otis Blue as a new release, maybe 66 or 67 and had Otis & Carla King And Queen. My sister's friend lent me Mose Allison 'Sings And Plays', John Coltrane 'My Favourite Things', Love 'Da Capo', The Temptations Greatest Hits. I was into country blues-Sleepy John Estes, Maxwell St Jimmy Davis and folk-Judy Collins, the first Incredible String band LP and Fairport Convention. I got into psych through Sergeant Pepper, Love, Doors, Iron Butterfly and Britsh Blues through Chicken Shack, John Mayall, Ten Years After. I collected every Animals single by 1968 and started on Motown which I would eventually have every UK issue of".

 

Musically what were your early influences, what were the clubs you frequented and how did you begin your DJ career.

 

"The Frollocking Kneecap in Market Harborough, my home town was my local and the best. I saw Brenton Wood, Family (3 times, once with Fairport jamming with them) , Pesky Gee, Zoot Money, Cliff Bennett, Fat Matress, Ferris Wheel. I saw Howlin' Wolf at the Il Rondo in Leicester, John Lee Hooker on the Americak Folk Blues Tour at the De Mont in Leicester. I used to hitch to Mothers in Brum to see Colosseum, King Crimson and others. Went to mod-soul clubs in Kettering and Northampton and then discovered my first "Old Soul" all nighter outside a village 5 miles out of Harboro called Kelmarsh in the first half of 1969. I've been collecting and involved with what they now call Northern soul ever since". 

 

Can you tell us about your first DJ gig and some of your favourite times behind a set of turntables.

 

"I was a collector and promoter before I became a DJ. I started the 6TS Rhythm 'n' Soul Club with Randy Cozens in 1979, but London was blessed with great soul DJs so I didn't DJ until our first all nighter at the old mod club The Last Chance which I think was 29 Oxford St. Randy told me not to be shy and get behind the decks. It ran from 3 am on Friday night, after a New Romantic night which meant Boy George, Marilyn and others were traipsing past skinheads, mods and reprobates on the stairs waiting to go in. I enjoyed DJing, it was a brilliant night and an easy passage as they would have danced to the B sides. We left at 10 am on a Saturday morning walking out into the middle of Oxford St shopping crowds, pissed and blocked; two lots of culture clashes". 

 

"My favourite DJ spots are the Sunday nights at Cleethorpes Weekender. I really enjoyed playing Vicenza in Italy in the 90s when I saw a whole new generation doing pretty much what I had done as a teenager." 

 

What was the progression from avid DJ/Collector to record label owner, was this a natural thing or something that had to be worked on?

 

"I only ever owned Horaces Records which had 7 singles and 3 LPs, I work for Kent which is part of Ace Records. I've been here 35 years now so it feels like home. It was a logical progression to my collecting and running the club and i knew the owners from record buying and selling and we were part of a shared social scene arond Rock On in Camden, Soho market and Rocks Off on Hanway St. I suggested it to one of the Ace bosses, he said yes and it worked".

 

When did you first realise that the Kent record series was going to be a huge success? was it difficult signing artists and dealing with licensing from other labels?, which were your personal success stories and proudest moments in Kents history?

 

"The first LP landed at the right time and it was successful from the off. It only ever strugled when there was a year hiatus as people switched from vinyl to CD. It's been harder recently with shrinking CD sales but more vinyl has helped and the Kent fans have been amazingly loyal. Getting the Dave Hamilton tapes twenty-odd years ago and the Pied Piper ones recently were major buzzes. Discovering the RCA tapes in their Manhattan offices was a thrill and the first trip to the Scepter Wand vaults was somethin' else". 

 

Which artists have you had the pleasure of working with, are there any that have been an inspiration to you?

 

"Lots of brilliant people; Maxine Brown, Little Ann, HB Barnum, Frank Dell, Bettye Swann, Dean Parrish and Doris Troy spring to mind for varying reasons. The Kent Cleethorpes CD goes into greater detail about the acts".

 

Moving through the years, how has the Kent story evolved, from early vinyl releases, to special 100 club anniversary releases, to CD's and into the world of digital, how has the brand stayed so strong.

 

"Having a reputation as an honest company who pay their royalties has been the biggest plus. The owners are all original 50s, 60s and 70s record collectors who revere the artists as much as I do and I can approach singers, writers and producers knowing they will get the best deal possible". 

 

Could you name a favourite release? and a tune that you never thought you would be able to release but managed to in the end.

"The Lou Johnson CD is one I'm particularly proud of as we presented the tracks in great detail after much hard work in getting them and Lou is my favourite singer of them all and he and his wife appreciated my work. Best track released is probably Ben E King 'Gettin' To Me' acquired by my old vinyl hunting skills".

 

Moving onto your promotional career, how did the 6t's All nighters at the 100 club evolve?

 

"We switched to the 100 Club in 1981 when Randy dropped out of promoting and due to a regular weekly night taking over our Friday night monthly bash we changed it to all nighters starting after the jazz at 1.30 am-8am. Originally mainly oldies and the biggest new discoveries up North we forged our own style through DJ Ian Clark being ahead of the game. Got more progressive when Stafford led the way with Newies and continued to lead when we signed the top rare soul DJ Butch about 25 years ago. Having all the exclusive tape and acetate recordings helped vastly too. We were never as far out for hard core collectors and chin-strokers as Stafford could be so kept the excitement and buzz through the years, as well as changing the residents progressively over time".

 

How long has it been running for and have you seen a change in musical style over the years?

 

"38 years as 6TS, 36 at the 100 Club. More 70s at the moment on some nights but a solid base of 60s soul throughout. New discoveries are phased in over time so there's gradual , not stark progression". 

 

How have you managed to stay fresh for so long?, do you have a roster of resident DJ's and do you have guests?

 

"Great guests as it's on most DJs wish list but I do try and keep it to people who attend occasionally anyway. The residents give it it's stability; it's always going to be a great and interesting night with the DJs we have". 

 

How often do the nights happen and are there any other promotions that you are currently involved in?

 

"About 9 a year now and 2 oldies nights at Crossfire in London; I run the Northern Room - www.6ts.info

 

Do you see much in the way of young DJ talent coming through?

 

"Yes we've had three or four DJs in their early 20s and Tomas McGrath is a resident of that age". 

 

In your opinion, what are your views on the modern rare soul scene compared that of yesteryear?

 

"Still good but much smaller now, the majority of soul fans want the records of their youths which is fine but the fans in search of the rare discoveries are less in number nowadays. But the ones who get it, get it and I'm happy to keep going while it still works and people enjoy it enough to travel, often very long distances, for it."

 

And lastly, do you have any future plans to release more music and are there any untapped labels and musical gems still left waiting to be discovered?

 

"Always, new old music turns up relatively frequently and we're lucky to be in the right place to get it and promote it and release it. There are several great deals I'm chasing at the moment which should keep us busy for a long while".

MOD JAZZ RIDES AGAIN

Number Ten in the inspirational & educational Kent Records Series, has just landed on my mat, and as ever, never disappoints.

The opening guitar licks of The Tempo Rhythm's - Poppa Nickel just set those feet tappin'. An Unreleased track, full of organ and dirty sax! A stalwart track from the past tenor so years on the Mod Scene, Jimmy Witherspoon gives us a tale of naughtiness with the married Mr Jones.

An Instrumental that has been popular on the scene over the years, led by guitarist Russell Evans, who played with the O'jays, is The Bold, which has all the ingredients you'd expect for the dancefloor.

Ray Shanklin brings some Shank & Grits to the table, the bass and brass for started and the pumping B3 Keys for main, followed by trombonist Harold Betters' Hot Tamale Man, all being served up at Sherry's Party by Plas' Downstairs brother Ray another great inst, al la Smokey Joes La La.

Big boss band leader and drummer extraordinaire Buddy Rich teams up with full time Rat Pack member and showman - Sammy Davis Jr - bringing a fabulous rendition of Petula Clark's - I Know A Place, incidentally written by Tony Hatch. The Rhoda Scott Trio, featuring Joe Thomas and Bill Elliot bring a bit of SHA-BAZZ with a little Latin flavour from Montego Joe's - Fat Man.

Sideman to the Stars, Jimmy Mayes gets us Pluckin' - a great guitar led R&B track. Otis Spann funks it up a little, letting us know he's a Due's Paying Man from his album on the Blues Time/Flying Dutchman along with label mate T-Bone Walker delivering his take on John Lee Hooker's - Shake It Baby.

A Quartette of tracks from the Atlantic Records Stable feature here too, Gate Wesley with Do The Thing, a proto funk edged Jazz dancer, whilst the trip down to East 34th Ave is a bongo laiden all the way there, with Candy Phillips giving us Timber, produced by Eddie Bo, the predecessor to Pass The Hatchet, perhaps? And closing the stable door, organist Jackie Ivory bringing his High Healed Sneakers.

Johnny "Hammond" Smith pounds those keys with a version of Ray Charles' - Sticks and Stones, whilst  Nina Simone answers Ray's No1 - Hit The Road Jack, by asking him to Come On Back.

You don't really hear Willie Dixon, Howlin' Wolf & Jazz in the same conversation, but the obscure Playboy Five deliver an organ jazz version of Spoonful with ruptous applause. The greasy sax leads to Empire City, with nods to Phil Upchurch's - Can't Sit Down, a real winner. Hard Working Girl has been having it's plays on the scene for a few years, and you know what you should do - try the flipside - I've Got My Walking Papers, another Jazz tinged Gritty R&B side.

Hank Jacobs, a name every Mod should know, from his Sue Record sides and great album, to his big Northern side Elijah Rocking With Soul on Call Me - comes Pushin' The Button Of Soul. Related to  Hank's track via producer Kent Harris, comes Out House from Eddie Bridges & His Lowriders, another great organ workout

.

Bringing this great selection to an end is another great track from the Bobby Jenkins Quartet - What Is Love, great vocals and production here on this heartstring puller.

A Big thank you to Kent Records' Dean Rudland & Ady Croasdell - who painstakingly trawl through 100'sof track to bring this series together - for that alone I'm only a little jealous.

WORDS - LEE MILLER

PLANET MOD

Shel Talmy is a name that any discussion of the significant stewards behind British pop’s mid-60s purple period will immediately bring to mind. Were it only for his early supervision of the Who, he would still remain a mod hero. Add the dozens of other records and artists – from best-sellers such as the Kinks to obscurities along the lines of the Mickey Finn – with which he was involved, and his role in bringing forth the most powerful examples of the genre becomes unequivocal. Even a venture that was ostensibly a failure – his bespoke label, Planet Records – has acquired semi-mythical status amongst the mod cognoscenti, thanks in part to its association with Talmy’s great white hope, the Creation.

Rather than recycling the over-familiar, the new “Planet Mod” compilation digs deep into Talmy’s rarely tapped tape vault to uncover many other fabulous examples of a genre that wields considerable influence to this day. The core of 1960s modernist taste was always black America, but in recent decades the voracious appetite of genre practitioners finds not only rock, but home-grown soul and even pop squeezed within mod’s defining parameters. Certainly, several American artists are represented, including two of the acknowledged greats of US R&B. In a scenario that is all too frequent for Talmy, there is also at least one future superstar within the assembled cast. And on the other side of the coin, we have early, unsuccessful yet exciting recordings from two vocalists who would both go on to have massive UK hits in the 1970s and 1980s, albeit with essentially family-friendly fare.

The Thoughts, Untamed, Wild Uncertainty, Tribe, Corduroys and John Lee’s Groundhogs all recorded for Planet, while others such as the Trackers and Pros & Cons were independent productions Talmy farmed out to major labels. There are rare early compositions from Bowie (Kenny Miller’s ‘Take My Tip’) and Bill Wyman (the Preachers’ ‘Goodbye Girl’), while the beans are spilled on mysterious outfits the Total and the Soul Brothers. Several tracks are alternate takes or versions, including a demo version of the New Breed’s sought-after ‘Unto Us’ and a rollicking studio jam by Goldie & the Gingerbreads. Indeed, over half the contents of “Planet Mod” are previously unreleased.

This is the first of several Ace/Big Beat collections drawn from the Shel Talmy archives, with forthcoming volumes focused on his beat and girl group productions. All come with thoroughly loaded booklets that provide unprecedented detail upon this remarkable man’s activities in that magic era.

WORDS - ALEC PALAO

BABY I'VE GOT IT - MORE MOTOWN GIRLS

Many moons have passed since our last “Motown Girls” project was released – but these things take time and a great deal of patience. We’re confident followers of the series will find this new volume very well worth the long wait.

The collection opens with ‘In My Heart I Know It’s Right’ by Gladys Knight & the Pips and closes with ‘So Long’ by the great Kim Weston in torch singer mode (a series tradition). ‘In My Heart I Know It’s Right’ was the first track Gladys and her guys recorded for Motown. The group had been introduced to the company by Larry Maxwell, who’d folded his Maxx label – where they had enjoyed modest chart success – in 1965 to join Motown. Gladys was opposed to the move, fearing they would just end up on the company’s assembly line, but she was outvoted by the Pips: “We decided we didn’t have that much to lose”, William Guest recalled. How right he was. ‘So Long’ was the closing theme of 1940s radio favourites the Russ Morgan Orchestra. Kim’s version was cut at a session that included ‘It’s Too Soon To Know’, which premiered on our “Finders Keepers: Motown Girls” collection. 

In between you’ll find some of the company’s biggest stars – the Marvelettes, Brenda Holloway, Mary Wells, Martha & the Vandellas – alongside lesser-known collector’s favourites such as Liz Lands, the Lewis Sisters and LaBrenda Ben. Liz Landsrecorded over 100 songs for Motown between June 1963 and January 1964, only a few of which have been released. Nearly all were standards or spirituals, a notable exception being ‘It’s Crazy Baby’. During 1964 Berry Gordy opened a new West Coast office, helmed by songwriter/producers Hal Davis and Marc Gordon, and Liz was sent out there for her final Motown assignment. House writer Frank Wilson came up with this modern-sounding song.

Of the 24 tracks here on “Baby I’ve Got It! More Motown Girls”, 16 are previously unissued and the rest were first made available as “Motown Unreleased” downloads between 2014 and 2017. The selections were recorded between 1961 and 1969, and – while predominantly uptempo, which should gladden most fans – represent several variations of the Motown sound.

WORDS - KEITH HUGHES AND MICK PATRICK

MILLIE JACKSON - CAUGHT UP - VINYL

The return to LP format restores the framework of Millie Jackson’s thematic musical saga: her perception of the affair with Mr Jody is related on Side One, while Mrs Jody’s experience is related on Side Two. Millie draws a crooked line back to the mythic, habitual ladies’ man “Jody”, as outlined in 1920s and 30s blues recordings such as ‘Joe The Grinder’ and ‘Joe Grind’. During the 1970s the inveterate lover man returned in Johnnie Taylor’s ‘Jody’s Got Your Girl And Gone’, Bobby Newsome’s ‘Jody Come Back And Get Your Shoes’ and other songs but the character was not referenced for the entire duration of an album until Millie’s “Caught Up”.

Millie Jackson had already enjoyed considerable success, with three exceptional albums and eight R&B Top 30 singles for Spring Records, before her move from New York to Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, Alabama to record with the pre-eminent Muscle Shoals Swampers rhythm section and producer Brad Shapiro. The result was an instant soul masterpiece.

The suite of compositions that comprise “Caught Up” unfolds with Millie’s epic interpretation of Luther Ingram’s 1972 hit ‘If Loving You Is Wrong I Don’t Want To Be Right’. Her thrilling rendition is presented in two parts, with the dynamic, six-minute ‘The Rap’ in between, outlining, in no uncertain terms, her positive and negative observations on conducting an affair with a married man. During her own funky composition ‘All I Want Is A Fighting Chance’ she confronts Mrs Jody in the street and admits to having an affair with her husband. Side One closes with Millie in more reflective mood, apologising to Mr Jody for her outburst but confessing, in the words of Phillip Mitchell’s stunning song, ‘I’m Tired Of Hiding’.

Side Two opens with Mrs Jody informing her spouse ‘It’s All Over But The Shouting’ – another fine, driving Millie Jackson composition. The Phillip Mitchell-penned ballad ‘It’s Easy Going’ marks an attempt at reconciliation before an incredible cover of Bobby Womack’s ‘I’m Through Trying To Prove My Love To You’ admits defeat. The album closes with Mrs Jody wistfully recalling her first encounter with her husband, in Millie’s remarkable transformation of Bobby Goldsboro’s 1973 smash ‘Summer (The First Time)’.

You can now listen again to this landmark concept album as Millie Jackson intended – on vinyl.

WORDS - IAN JOHNSTON

SPENCER WIGGINS - THE GOLDWAX YEARS

Although Spencer Wiggins first made the R&B charts with his Fame 45 ‘Double Lovin’’ in 1970, it is his eight Goldwax singles, released in the latter half of the 60s, for which he is most famous among soul fans. Veering from deep melancholic ballads to raucous uptempo groovers, those 45s epitomise southern soul.

Southern soul is a close cousin of the blues, and ‘Lover’s Crime’, Spencer’s first single on Goldwax’s Bandstand USA subsidiary, was an early Isaac Hayes composition of that ilk. ‘Sweet Sixteen’, which was unreleased until 1977, is a full-on blues, presumably shelved by Goldwax as they wanted to keep Spencer known as a soul singer, even though he excels on the number. A strong country influence is apparent on ‘I Never Loved A Woman (The Way I Love You)’ which rivals Aretha Franklin’s Atlantic breakthrough single from a couple of years earlier. ‘Once In A While (Is Better Than Never At All)’, written by Goldwax boss Quinton Claunch, an ex-country singer, and songwriter George Jackson’s ‘Old Friend’ are also in the country bag.

The dramatic ballad ‘Up Tight Good Woman’, penned by Dan Penn, Spooner Oldham and Jimmy Johnson, is probably Spencer’s best-known recording and remains a highlight of his live performances. Penn and Oldham also provided ‘Take Me Just As I Am’, another standout track. ‘He’s Too Old’ and ‘I’m A Poor Man’s Son’ are vibrant, warm-hearted numbers taken at a jaunty pace, although still very much southern soul, whereas ‘Lonely Man’ is the only song with hints of a Detroit influence, and has consequently cost collectors appreciably more than the norm.

Spencer is primarily a preacher today but his 2010 appearance at the Cleethorpes rare soul weekender demonstrated he is still a great performer. More recently he completed a successful two-date visit to London and Manchester with his brother Percy.

WORDS - ADY CROASDELL

ZZ HILL - THAT'S IT!

For two decades Z Z Hill was a go-to guy for anyone who needed a shot of blues-tinged soul music. His catalogue of recordings includes many masterpieces of southern soul, his Texas roots showing through wherever he recorded. After years of critical acclaim, and a late flourish of hits, he was about to take his career to a bigger stage in 1984 when complications from the aftermath of a car crash robbed black American music of one of its finest singers.

CD1 features all the singles Z.Z released during his time as a Kent artist, 1964 to 1968, in mono and with each tape carefully matched against an original 45 to ensure they are heard just the way they were meant to be heard. CD2 contains the first-ever CD release of his 1968 album “A Whole Lot Of Soul”, in stereo, plus originally unissued material and tracks onto which Kent-Modern’s Joe Bihari added strings after Z.Z. started to score hits for other labels in the early 70s. Few CDs we’ve ever put out live up to their titles quite as conclusively as “That’s It!”.

The CD booklet features a sessionography which reveals hitherto unpublished information about recording locations, producers and engineers for these tracks. For any 60s soul fan, “That’s It!” is all that, and more besides.

WORDS - TONY ROUNCE

CLARENCE CARTER - TESTIFYIN AND PATCHES

There’s a sign on the unprepossessing brown building that is the home of FAME Studios which proclaims it to be the Home Of The Muscle Shoals Sound. It’s a message that is as true now as it was in the second half of the 1960s, when FAME was the recording home of stars as diverse as Candi Staton and the Osmonds and the studio’s flagship artist was consistent hit-maker Clarence Carter.

Between 1967 and 1973 Clarence brought hit after hit to the R&B and pop charts, all supervised by Rick Hall, FAME’s founder and owner to this day. Hits such as ‘Slip Away’, ‘Looking For A Fox’, ‘Too Weak To Fight’ and ‘Thread The Needle’ were crucial to the establishment of the studio’s sound and a great advertisement for what it had to offer to any artist who was looking for some Muscle Shoals fairy dust to enhance their careers.

During that time Clarence had five albums issued, all of extremely high quality and equally popular with album-buyers of the period. Kent has already brought you the first two on CD, with a bonus of rare and previously unissued material. This new package compiles Clarence’s third and fourth albums – “Testifyin’” and “Patches”, from 1969 and 1970 – and adds three tracks from a 1971 session that have only previously appeared on a now-deleted limited edition vinyl EP. The two albums feature seven R&B Top 30 hits, most of which also crossed over to the pop charts, including Clarence’s version of the Chairmen Of The Board’s ‘Patches’, his biggest global hit. Individually the albums represent the end of one era at FAME and the beginning of another, as the studio’s second great rhythm section, the Swampers, who play on “Testifyin’”, gave way to its third, the Fame Gang, who can be heard on the “Patches” album and the bonus material.

Clarence was at the peak of his popularity at the time, and would be a chart regular for the next five years, until disco knocked southern soul for six. The selections here show why he is still regarded as one of his era’s premier soul men, and why FAME remains known as the Home Of The Muscle Shoals Sound.

Words by TONY ROUNCE

LET'S DO THE BOOGALOO

The boogaloo is an ill-defined genre, which for years has almost been written out of black music history and handed over to New York’s Hispanic population, and mixed with its close cousin latin-soul. But as noted in We Like It Like That, Mathew Ramirez Warren’s excellent documentary of that scene, bandleader Richie Ray created the first latin boogaloo after seeing African-Americans in his audience doing the dance at one of his shows, which prompted him to funk up a guajira and create ‘Lookie Lookie’.

“Let’s Do The Boogaloo” attempts to tell a fuller story, tracing the roots of the dance back to a stolen Motown backing track and comedy duo Tom & Jerrio from the dance’s hometown of Chicago taking ‘The Boogaloo’ to the upper reaches of the charts in 1965. Kent look at where the beat came from, why ‘Lookie Lookie’ had plenty of latin antecedents, and how the success lingered on in the years after the initial breakthrough.

Whereas most dances disappeared within months, one of the biggest boogaloo hits – ‘Boogaloo Down Broadway’ by the Fantastic Johnny C – reached its peak in early 1968, and boogaloo records even resurfaced in hip hop in the 1980s. The latin world took the sound even more to heart, and boogaloos have a tendency to reappear even now. So what made the boogaloo so enduring? Other than it is incredibly good music, there doesn’t appear to be a definitive answer.

This compilation has music recorded in the North, South, East and West between 1965 and 1968. It takes in big names attempting to cash in on the latest dance craze plus new artists and producers trying out this exciting music. The beat is often messed with, and sometimes – such as in Lou Courtney’s ‘Me And You (Doin’ The Boogaloo)’ – stretched so far that you wonder if what you are hearing really is still a boogaloo. The sounds though are irresistible – the groove is often on the cusp of funk and always danceable. Listen to the latin-style horns on Prince & Princess’ ‘Ready, Steady, Go’, the almost mechanical syncopation of Roy Lee Johnson’s ‘Boogaloo #3’ or the frenetic hysteria of Hector Rivera’s ‘Playing It Cool’ and you are aware that this is music that is vibrant and exciting.

Words by DEAN RUDLAND

MIRWOOD RECORDS NORTHERN SOUL

A vinyl-only collection comprising 14 outstanding stompin’ soul dancers from Los Angeles.

The Mirwood label’s second release was Jackie Lee’s ‘The Duck’, a soul swinger that became a big hit and established the Mirwood sound. The house team of producer Fred Smith, arranger James Carmichael and songwriter Sherlie Matthews, along with contributions from veteran singer-songwriters Bob Relf and Earl Nelson (Bob & Earl) made uptempo soul perfection and they played that beat throughout 1965 and 1966.

Although more US chart action occurred with the Olympics and Bob & Earl, much of the Mirwood team’s superlative work fell on deaf American ears. It was the British soul aficionados of the early 70s who discovered these masterpieces to play on their burgeoning Northern Soul scene. The dancers revelled in the relentless beats, pleading vocals and sassy female backing.

Virtually any Jackie Lee track was a worthy contender, especially the soul dance classic ‘Do The Temptation Walk’, the master tape discovery ‘Anything You Want (Any Way You Want It)’, and the anthemic ‘Oh, My Darlin’’. Bob & Earl’s hottest number was actually the backing track to Bob’s speedy ‘My Little Girl’, discovered as an accidental UK LP cut in the late 60s. Under the same alias, Bobby Garrett, Bob had another monster sound with ‘I Can’t Get Away’. Ex-Ike Turner sideman Jimmy Thomas arrived at Mirwood in 1966 where Bob Relf recorded him on his own song ‘Where There’s A Will (There’sA Way)’. Jimmy brought the Ikettes along with him; the company switched their name to the Mirettes for the Sherlie Matthews-penned ‘I Wanna Do Everything For You Baby’ and others. Sherlie also composed the stomping ‘Mine Exclusively’ and ‘The Same Old Thing’ for the Olympics and ‘Don’t Pretend’ for the Belles, a studio group comprising of herself along with sisters Brenda and Patrice Holloway.

Another Los Angeles stable under the auspices of Henry “Hank” Graham threw the Performers’ ‘I Can’t Stop You’ into the mix and renamed singer Jimmy Conwell as Richard Temple for a 45 that epitomises Northern Soul, ‘That Beatin’ Rhythm’; a credo for a cult. More indie productions came from Eddie LaShae with the Sheppards’ redoubtable ‘Stubborn Heart’ and Sonny Knight’s production of Curtis Lee on ‘Is She In Your Town?’.

Altogether 14 vital mid-60s dance records that demonstrate why Mirwood is a byword for the best in Northern Soul.

Words by ADY CROASDELL

NORTHERN SOUL'S CLASSIEST RARITIES

It’s nearly three years since the last volume of this respected series. The eye-opener on this new collection will be the previously unissued version of ‘I Only Cry Once A Day Now’, a superb Gene Page arrangement treasured by the Puffs on Doré but performed here by the mighty Fidels. Fellow Los Angeles vocal group the Hyperions contribute the catchy and exciting ‘Why You Wanna Treat Me The Way You Do’, and the Lon-Genes’ rare single ‘Dream Girl’ gives further kudos to that city’s soul reputation. Difosco (aka Dee Ervin) recorded the ebullient ‘Sunshine Love’ for another Los Angeles imprint, Earthquake, and its standing among collector’s continues to grow, while we finally put out the correct brass-filled version of Peggy Woods’ great mid-80s discovery ‘Love Is Gonna Get You’ for the first time on CD.

Much-travelled soul ambassador Sidney Barnes has licensed us his super-rare production of ‘I Wanted To Tell You’ by Little Nicky Soul and later under-the-radar creations on Andre Scott and Jean Carter. He has also added substantially to the booklet notes in an illuminating and entertaining manner. Sid’s Detroit production partner, soon-to-be superstar George

Clinton, offers up ‘You Won’t Say Nothing’ by Tamala Lewis, one of the earliest works from hisNew Jerseydays. That disc eventually became a Northern Soul classic, as did Jackie Day’s ‘Naughty Boy’, Johnnie Taylor’s ‘Friday Night’ and Betty Turner’s ‘The Winds Kept Laughing’. An even more established gem is given an interesting twist in a newly acquired early version of Maxine Brown’s ‘One In A Million’; the subtle differences make it an aural thrill

The Just Productions tapes have turned up an earlier version of Jack Ashford’s ‘I’ll Fly To Your Open Arms’, called simply ‘I Can Fly’, by great vocal group the Magnificents. The Detroit Emeralds’ LP-only ‘Long Live The King’ is finding favour with soul fans recently and sounds vibrant here. More Detroit quality comes via a recent tape discovery from O.C. Tolbert, whose distinctive vocals give Dave Hamilton’s ‘(Marriage Is Only) A State Of Mind’ a soulful twist. There are two majestic big beat ballads from the vaults of Los Angeles arranger Jack Nitzsche: Nooney Rickett’s unissued ‘Sad Tomorrows’ and Daniel A Stone’s terrific take on ‘Young Boy Blues’. Jock Mitchell’s moody and mysterious ‘Nomad Woman’ fits snugly between the pair. Two excellent early soul rarities come from Chicago soul stalwarts the Vows and the Kittens, while it’s over to Memphis for a pretty Carla Thomas recording (unreleased until 1992) called ‘Little Boy’, the perfect ender to this collection of treasures.

Words by ADY CROASDELL

THE BEST OF JAMES CARR

2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the release on Goldwax of James Carr’s recording of ‘The Dark End Of The Street’, a record rightly hailed as a benchmark in soul, and in southern soul in particular. James’ recording of Dan Penn and Chips Moman’s genre-defining song is one of dozens but it was the first and is by unanimous consensus the best.

Ace records wanted to do something to commemorate the anniversary. The first and most logical thought was to put out commemorative reissue of the single but they also wanted to do something for album and CD fans. Although they have extensively anthologised James’ catalogue in the past, they’ve never released a “Best Of” CD before. This mid-priced set is aimed primarily at those who know a few of James’ tracks and would like to get to know his discography better. For long-time fans the disc provides an ideal opportunity to get all of James’ Billboard R&B and pop chart hits in one place for the first time. And for fans of a more traditional medium of listening we also present a vinyl configuration with fewer tracks but still featuring all the hits and more.

James was truly one of soul music’s finest singers, up there with Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, Aretha Franklin and Jackie Wilson in the pantheon of the greatest soul music makers. It’s a shame he didn’t make more records but those he released on Goldwax between 1965 and 1971 have few equals. If you enjoy “The Best Of James Carr” we strongly urge you to check out the rest of his Goldwax recordings, every single one of which is available on Kent.

Words by TONY ROUNCE

MODERNISM

Kent records comes up trumps with this selection of mod stompers, there are so many great tracks tracks on the album it makes you wonder where they constantly dig them up from, yes there are a few well known faces, Lou Johnson, Darrow Fletcher, Bob and Earl and Chuck Jackson but that doesn't stop Ady and his team flexing their more rarer muscles, Teddy Reynolds, Leroy Harris, The Ambertones and others all add to this dance floor masterclass, don't get us wrong, there are some lovely slower pieces on the album but in the main this album is made for the dance floor. The inner sleeve of the CD comes with some amazing images of the artists and a few photos from Paul Hallam's Odds and Sods book. Kent records once again hits the nail firmly on the head.​

Words by CRIS DAVIES

MODERNISTS

You would be forgiven if you thought that Suit Yourself had been paid back handers to promote all the new Kent / Ace releases but your thoughts couldn't be further from the truth. The fact of the matter is that Kent are releasing probably the best compilations around and they are coming thick and fast! here we have a further two releases straight off the back of 'Nothing but a House Party', 'Modernists' being a definite cut above the rest with underground Mod classics from The Merced Blue notes, Troy Dodds, Leroy Harris, Hank Williams, Floyd White, Bob and Earl. Mel Williams and Little Johnny Hamilton and more crossing all Genres from R & B, Blues, Latin and Jazz. This release is on vinyl only at the moment catering for the purists out there, New Untouchables and Dreamsville DJ Lee Miller gets a mention in the sleeve notes as having broken one of these floor filled monsters. This album is a must have for all Modernists or lovers of the underground sound of Mod.

Words By CRIS DAVIES

CHUCK JACKSON - BIG NEW YORK SOUL

Kent released the best of Chuck Jackson’s Wand recordings on “Good Things” in 1990 and subsequently put out his eight Wand albums as four CD two-fers. A reassessment of the tapes from their Wand trawl of the mid-80s, along with more recent discoveries, means they are now able to issue a final CD of previously unreleased tracks and rarities. Of the eight previously unheard songs, highlights are the perky opener ‘Things Just Ain’t Right’, a tremendous cover of the Curtis Mayfield-written ‘Need To Belong’, originally covered by Jerry Butler, and ‘Anymore’, a duet with Dionne Warwick

 

Also included are ‘Little By Little’, a great uptempo dancer previously available on the Kent LP “A Powerful Soul” in 1987, ‘The Silencer’, a secret agent-styled film theme released only on a 3CD set in the 90s, and a demo of ‘In Between Tears’ previously exclusive to another Kent LP. There are two very good B-sides, ‘For All Time’ and ‘And That’s Saying A Lot’, which have never appeared before on CD. Some collectors may know ‘And That’s Saying A Lot’ from Christine Perfect’s cover on her first solo LP. ‘Big New York’, which appeared on their deleted “In The Naked City” CD, is also included.

A recent flurry of internet activity saw Chuck’s fans amazed that the very popular ‘Hand It Over’ was issued in quite different vocal versions over two Wand singles. Kent include the one that has eluded CD release up to now. As Kents two-fers were mainly stereo, we have obtained mono versions of such great album numbers as ‘If I Didn’t Love You’, ‘I’ve Got To Be Strong’ and ‘This Broken Heart (That You Gave Me)’. ‘Another Day’ and ‘King Of The Mountain’ also get the mono treatment and sit well with a third Bob Crewe/4 Seasons-related track, the previously unissued ‘Through My Tears’.

Words by ADY CROASDELL

WILSON PICKET SINGS BOBBY WOMACK

Between 1966 and 1968 Wilson Picket recorded 17 blisteringly good Bobby Womack numbers and after many years of trying to licence these tracks on different record labels Kent finally come up with the goods where others couldn’t. Wilson’s recognisably raw vocals showcase Womack’s writing talents beautifully as we are treated to a cross section of uptempo soul classics and heartfelt ballads of which Wilson’s voice was almost born for, yes there is more to his talents than ‘Land of a 1000 dances’! This album gives us the full 17 tracks with three bonus pieces two of which are recorded by Womack himself and range from the uptempo opener ‘I found a true love’ to ‘Nothing you can do’ and ‘Sit down and talk it over’ to the more slower soulful ballads that dominate the album including the very slick ‘Jealous love’ and Sam Cooke’s “Bring it on home to me’ Womack finishes the album with the fantastic soul stomper “Find me somebody’ and the wonderful ‘How does it feel’ All together a treat for the senses bringing together two masters at work.

Words by TONY ROUNCE

DORE - NORTHERN SOUL

Another Kent exclusive but this time of a Northern soul flavour, telling the story of some of the BIGGEST releases from the DORE label, BIG northern soul monsters right from the beginning with the legendary 'Gone with the wind is my love' from Rita and the Tiaras, the pace never lets up through the whole album, even the slower gems would have you burning a hole in the carpet! Monsters including tracks from The Superbs, Milton James, Kenard Gardner, The Fidels, Ray Marchand, The Shades of Jade and Little Johnny Hamilton, all legends from this incredible label. With sleeve notes from the incredible Ady Croasdell what is there not to love.

Words by CRIS DAVIES

NOTHING BUT A HOUSE PARTY

For the whole of the 1970s, the Philly Sound was a leading and immediately identifiable component of black American music. A crack team of producers, songwriters and musicians raised worldwide awareness of Philadelphia soul to the level the Motown Sound had enjoyed during the previous decade. Anyone with half an ear for music could spot a Philly soul record by its opening bars, whatever the location of the label on which it appeared.

In the same way the Motown Sound really came together after the company started recording almost exclusively in its own premises, the Philly Sound quickly took shape once Joe Tarsia, the former chief engineer at Cameo-Parkway Studios, opened Sigma Sound in 1968. 

There had been other notable studios in the city, such as Virtue, where the sound had been coming together under the auspices of those who would later play increasingly significant roles in its creation. It took a short time for the Philly Sound to come together but a lot of great records were cut during its evolution. Spanning the period 1967 to 1971, shortly before the establishment of Philadelphia International Records and the complete realisation of the Philly Sound, this new Kent compilation contains two dozen of the very best examples.

All the artists featured here played an important part in the development of the Philly Sound. While some – Moses Smith, for example – made just a couple of records, others such as George Tindley and Len Barry enjoyed lengthy careers, and non-locals Jerry Butler, Archie Bell, Peaches & Herb and Freddie Scott enjoyed hits with recordings made in other cities. For those who know only the Philly Sound hits of the 70s, this collection will prove to be revelatory. Those who go back a bit further will relish the chance to revisit some of the goodies that drew them to Philly soul in the first place. Many of the tracks have never been on UK CD before and some are reissued here for the first time. And as always, the booklet is stuffed with as many photos and illustrations as we could accommodate.

Words by TONY ROUNCE

DETROIT EMERALDS - I THINK OF YOU

One of the most popular soul trios of their time, both at home in the US and here in the UK where they toured frequently, the Detroit Emeralds’ Westbound 45s maintained a constant presence in the soul and pop charts on both sides of the pond until mid-70s, when the original group split up.

The group released 11 US singles on Westbound. Most (but not all) of the songs have been reissued before, but “I Think Of You” marks the first time all of the group’s A and B-sides have been presented on one collection – with several mono-only 45 mixes appearing on CD for the first time. Hits such as ‘Do Me Right’, ‘You Want It – You Got It’, ‘Feel The Need In Me’ and the UK-only release ‘I Think Of You’ (included as a bonus in its original mono 45 edit) sound as charming now as they did 40-plus years ago. They will forever ensure a place in the hearts of all lovers of classic soul for this most excellent of trios.

Lead vocalist Abe Tilmon’s death at age 37 robbed soul music of one of its more commercially-minded songwriter-producers. The singles featured in this collection are some of the best of their era, full of memorable riffs, commercial hooks and witty lyrics that marked the Detroit Emeralds as a group always worth hearing. Here they are, presented in the order they were released, with the A-side first. Looking for a collection of great tunes that’s guaranteed to put a smile on your face? You want it, you got it!

Words by TONY ROUNCE


GILLIAN HILLS - ZOU BISOU BISOU

In the early 1960s Gillian Hills was at the heart of a cultural shift that saw French popular music evolve from the chanson tradition to embrace modern pop and rock influences. Indeed, she may well have acted as a catalyst for that change, incorporating both American and British influences in her recordings when she could. And yet, by the time Gillian was 21, her recording career was all but over and she would return to acting. That she was able to embrace all the emerging opportunities in the era of “the teenager” ensured she was a popular presence on television, radio and in magazines – in France at least.

Discovered by film director Roger Vadim, Cairo-born Gillian is best known for her roles in cult movies such as Beat Girl (1959), Blow-Up (1966) and A Clockwork Orange (1971). Her parallel career as a teen singer-songwriter saw her record for the Paris-based Barclay label and, buoyed by her appearance in 1962’s Les Parisiennes and touring alongside Johnny Hallyday, Gillian became popular on the burgeoning yé-yé scene. Working with maestros Paul Mauriat, Jean Bouchéty and Mickey Baker, Gillian’s recordings benefitted from superb arrangements and top-notch orchestration. Encompassing sentimental ballads, beaty numbers plus Gillian’s own compositions, this 22-track best-of comprises original material and cover versions.

Having worked latterly as an illustrator, the spotlight was once again thrown upon Gillian when 'Zou Bisou Bisou' featured in Season 5 of ‘MadMen’ in 2012. This spawned a cover version by actress Jessica Paré and also saw Gillian’s recording played out in the coveted closing credits spot. Since then her rendition has been used as the soundbed for an international L’Oréal shampoo campaign. Highly regarded by yé-yé aficionados, Gillian Hills is a welcome addition to Ace’s French pop compendium.

Words by SAM SZCZEPANSKI

MAINSTREAM MODERN SOUL 2

Following on from the hugely successful title of the same name volume two hits us with the soul sounds from 1969 - 1976, this 23 track hat tip to the Mainstream family of record labels is for the lover of high production late sixties soul and early disco, you could almost imagine you were at the cusp of this explosion in musical goodness. There are too many great tracks on the album to pick out a handful but you know you are in the right hands with artists like Chapter three, Lenny Welch, Alice Clark, Eleventh Commandment, Charles Beverley and more. Each artist taking us on a journey into an era of quality late soul and beautifully polished early disco dance floor pieces. If you are a lover of this period and don’t own both albums now would be a great time to welcome them into your collection.

Words by CRIS DAVIES

UNDISPUTED TRUTH - NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH

Handpicked by top-level Motown writer-producer Norman Whitfield as a new outlet for the realisations of his creative mind, the Undisputed Truth debuted in 1970 with ‘Save My Love For A Rainy Day’ before going on to score significantly with the Grammy-nominated ‘Smiling Faces Sometimes’ and the original version of ‘Papa Was a Rolling Stone’, among others. Although their career was consistently overshadowed by the success of Whitfield’s main act, the Temptations, whose recordings they were frequently required to remake by their producer, the trio (who later became a quintet) nevertheless hit the R&B charts with 12 successful singles between 1971 and 1975, eight of which also made the Hot 100. Not a bad tally for any group, and one of which lead singer Joe Harris – who was with them from the beginning until their final recordings in 1980 – is justifiably proud.

Apart from the occasional anthology and random reissues of individual albums, the group’s Motown catalogue has been somewhat neglected in the digital era. Not anymore. “Nothing But The Truth”  restores to catalogue the group’s first, third and fourth albums – “The Undisputed Truth”, “Law Of The Land” and “Down To Earth” – none of which has ever been issued complete on CD before, plus a selection of single mixes and non-album 45s. (Their second album, “Face To Face With The Truth”, has been issued on CD elsewhere.) The usual thorough track annotations by Motown authority Keith Hughes complement a lengthy essay featuring revealing quotes from Joe Harris, who was interviewed specifically for the project and gives it his personal endorsement. A vast array of illustrations help make the booklet as enjoyable to look at as the music is to hear. All in all, another important addition to our growing library of officially approved Motown collections.

 

Words by TONY ROUNCE

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© Suit Yourself Modernist Culture 2019

EST 2016